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A Wandering Mind

Image by Comfreak from Pixabay

Twiddle, diddle, piddle,
Round and round they go,
Seeking to and fro,
Encircling the middle.

Glorious appendage,
Following your track,
First here, then back.
Secret patience of the Sage.

Not a finger, but a thumb,
Helping the day,
Passing on its way.
How I wish I had some rum.

Encircling the middle,
Seeking to and fro.
Round and round they go,
Piddle, diddle, twiddle.

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

Musings of a Space Geek

All of my life, I have been a space geek. 

This Sunday, I witnessed another historic event in the journey beyond our planet. 

REF: KSC-107-69PC-442. APOLLO 11 LIFTOFF

The earliest space flights I can recall are the flights of Gemini IX and Gemini X in July of 1966. Those memories are of animations on the news: details of the capsule, the arcs of its orbits, and what was supposed to happen for them to land. It lit my young imagination as brightly as the flare from the Titan II which launched it. 

Apollo came next. Its mission, to take us to the moon. Humans have long had a desire to travel to the moon. 

In the ancient Chinese myth of Chang’e, a woman banished to the moon for drinking an elixir of immortality meant for another. This myth was referenced during the Apollo 11 mission. While Michael Collins orbited the moon alone in the command module, flight controller Robert Evans told him the story of Chang’e and how she lived on a moon with a white rabbit. Michael Collins replied he would keep an eye out for her. 

Lucien, a Syrian-Greek from around 125 BCE, wrote of space travel. The story, a part of his journeys throughout the Mediterranean, tells how he and 50 companions are lifted by waterspout to the moon. There to be greeted by a race of three-headed vultures. They end up fighting a war with another alien species. After fighting beside the three-headed vultures and winning the war, preventing the aliens from conquering the moon, they find a way home. Lucien’s tale is the earliest known piece of fiction depicting a form of space travel, a moon landing, an alien invasion, and an interplanetary war.  

The Rigveda from India can be cited as an early source of these same concepts. The difference between Lucien’s story and the Rigveda and Lucien’s tale, his was not written as a religious text. 

Jumping ahead in time, bypassing many other references, I want to point out Jules Verne’s “From the Earth to The Moon.” This futurist accurately predicted so many things regarding our modern trip to the moon: the use of retro-rockets, capsules splashing down in the ocean, lunar module, and more. Verne turned to his brother for help with the math of the moon shot. Based on the available knowledge, he was very close to escape velocity, orbital trajectories, and choosing the best geographic locations to best launch the rocket. The book’s chosen launch site is only ninety miles north of Cape Canaveral. And yes, he got a couple of things wrong, acceleration being one of the biggest. 

All of these dreams and stories serve a purpose. They provide hope and purpose, along with a sense of adventure and discovery. They tell us there is a potential our species can still obtain. 

“The Man Who Sold the Moon” by Robert Heinlein is the story of one man’s dream and how he makes a difference by fighting for his vision and, in doing so, pushes the human race to reach its potential.

During the mid-twentieth century, these dreams culminated in the Apollo missions. I was among the millions of people worldwide glued to our televisions on July 20, 1969. I watched every newscast I could. The same men who told me about Gemini were now telling me about Apollo: Walter Cronkite, the most trusted voice in America, narrated the events, while Paul Harvey told us the rest of the story. 

A year later, these same men kept me on the edge of my seat during the Apollo 13 mission. We all held our collective breath as these three men fought for their lives in the harshness of space. Hope was as thin as a razor’s edge. As we know, they returned safely. At the time, the tension was palpable. But the near-disaster served some critical purposes, including these two: it prompted a reconsideration of the propriety of the whole effort by the civil space program, and it planted in the popular mind the technological genius of NASA. 

My favorite Apollo mission happened in July and August of 1971. Apollo 15 carried the Lunar Rover. After that, every car I rode in for years was a lunar rover.  

Skylab. Launched on May 14, 1973, this was a milestone event. A space station! How far could the apartments in space from my favorite stories be? Skylab had some early teething pains. Problems with the launch caused two crucial issues – pieces, including a meteorite/sunshield, broke off, and the solar array didn’t deploy properly. Again, NASA’s technical genius of the day came to the forefront, and a mission was dispatched to repair the station. 

The final mission to Skylab was launched on November 16, 1973. The station slept for four years. Placed in what was expected to be a stable orbit, it was discovered in 1977 the orbit was decaying as a result of greater-than-predicted solar activity. Skylab plunged to a fiery death on July 11, 1979, spreading debris across the Indian Ocean and over parts of Western Australia. 

Not long after Skylab was put to sleep, the world received another glimmer of hope. The United States and the Soviet Union had reached a tenuous détente in the Cold War. In July 1975, we saw the first international effort designed to test the rendezvous and docking systems’ compatibility. The goal was to open the way for possible international rescue missions and future joint missions.  

Significant science did not occur on this mission. Instead, it was symbolic of the lessening tension between the two superpowers. This was the final flight of an Apollo spacecraft. At the time, I really did not understand the ramifications of that. All I saw was spacecraft from two countries being able to meet and have the crews shake hands. All it meant to me was a future was possible.  

A couple of years passed before another manned venture was underway. It was so exciting to watch the first space shuttle roll out of the hanger. The crew of my favorite TV show, “Star Trek,” was there for the christening. A spaceship named Enterprise had my head dancing with visions of new planets, colonies on Mars, and more. The letdown was pretty sharp when I realized this was a test vehicle and would never go to space. I wanted so badly to see a ship named Enterprise in orbit. 

Still, on April 12, 1981, I came out of my chair and bounced around my living room when Columbia had a successful lift-off. This was beginning to look more like the science fiction I loved. 

On January 28, 1986, I was working for Terminix. It was a routine morning, performing a regular pest control visit. The customer had her television tuned to the launch of Challenger. Her crew represented all of us, a cross-section of the population in terms of race, gender, geography, background, and religion. I stopped work for a moment to watch. I stood in the kitchen, a marbled yellow countertop between me and the television in her den. The exhilaration of the launch caused my heart to beat a little faster. 

Exhilaration turned to anguish as the single white plume became a fireball, splitting the pillar upon which they were meant to rise. Tears rolled down my cheeks for the rest of that day. 

After the smoke cleared and the lessons were learned, I continued watching the launches as they came. If I couldn’t watch live, I set my VCR to record them. I laughed when Endeavor repaired the Hubble Telescope. The image of a powerful satellite wearing glasses like I did, struck me as a cosmic joke. 

The International Space Station. Many countries, coming together to further our presence in space. That rolled over and over in my mind, conjuring images from the 1940s and 1950s of possible space habitats. I was slightly disappointed that it was not the classic ring station, as seen in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Yet, looking at it this past Monday, it could have been an alien city in space as it hung suspended above the Earth, the sun reflecting the solar panels. 

I was able to watch as the shuttles took supplies and modules to the station. The thought of regular traffic between the Earth and a Space Station was almost surreal. At the time, I thought this was science fiction coming to life. Then came the demise of my beloved space shuttle. 

Columbia launched January 16, 2003. The news that a suitcase-size piece of foam had broken off and struck a wing brought tension and anxiety to spaceflight not truly felt since Apollo 13. Would this ship, the oldest in the fleet, survive re-entry? No one could say with certainty. 

Foam had broken off of the main tank in previous missions. But none had ever struck the leading edge of the wing. Engineers believed catastrophic failure was likely. As with the Endeavor, NASA managers did not listen to them. They thought even if there were significant damage, nothing could be done. 

That brave crew all climbed aboard Columbia on February 1, 2003. At 8:55 a.m., 231,000 feet above the California coast, came the first indications of trouble. Heat-resistant tiles on the leading edge of the left wing had indeed been damaged or lost. Wind and heat entered the wing, and it simply blew apart. I bawled. For the people, for the ship, for our future in the sky. I watched Columbia’s first flight, and I witnessed her last. The saddest part? It could have been prevented. 

In August 2003, an investigation board issued a report revealing that it would have been possible either for the Columbia crew to repair the wing’s damage or for the crew to be rescued from the shuttle.

The Columbia could have stayed in orbit until February 15. The shuttle Atlantis’s already-planned launch could have been moved up as early as February 10, leaving a short window for repairing the wing or getting the crew off of the Columbia. She might have gone down in flames, but the crew would have survived.

Shuttle flights shut down until July 26, 2005, when Discovery was launched. On July 27, 2011, Atlantis made the final flight and ended an era.  

The spirit of “The Man Who Sold the Moon” showed itself on June 21, 2004. We saw the successful flight of SpaceShipOne. The first privately-owned craft to cross the Kármán line, the accepted point of entry in space as defined by the International Astronautical Federation. And it did so three times. Now, there are plans for regular tourist service to the edge of space aboard SpaceShipTwo. While there have been drawbacks and setbacks, there have been many successes.  

The real breakthrough, for me, was the launch of Resilience. Straight out of science fiction. A commercial enterprise has developed a reusable rocket capable of delivering payloads, and now people, into space. While early results were literally hit-or-miss, the recovery system has evolved to a point where it has become almost routine for SpaceX to recover its launch vehicles. 

SpaceX is already working on its next generation of spacecraft, Starship, designed to be a fully reusable system capable of carrying crews and cargo to Earth orbit, the moon, and even Mars. I can only hope it achieves its full potential. 

As I muse on these achievements, I can’t help but draw some similarities to Heinlein’s “The Man Who Sold the Moon.” A broad stroke comparison between Heinlein’s protagonist Delos D. Harriman and Elon Musk is easy to make: both are successful businessmen, somewhat ruthless in achieving their goals. Heinlein’s story follows the economic elements regarding problems related to financing a feat that people of his time believed belong to the realm of science fiction and examines the steps and pitfalls required to achieve what he wants. 

In Musk’s case, he faces many of the same problems, with one difference. Everyone knows it possible to go to the moon. Still, the common knowledge when he began was flights to the moon were the governments’ province. Private enterprise was simply incapable of accumulating the resources and raising the capital, even with government subsidy. 

Heinlein faced the challenge of conveying the social conventions and norms of a strange cultural background. Did he do it? Yes, beautifully, without resorting to the brain dumps, which were typical for the time.

The culture he envisions has a technological background that creates, shapes, and sustains the culture he is describing. He then populates this world with people both recognizable and at the same time, a product of this culture. 

In our reality, though, we humans chase power and advantage. We build cultures of fear to the point we become strangers to ourselves. As a society, we claim to seek the truth; truly, we have lost our own inner truth. Living in a crazy state of constant self-doubt and social positioning, we miss the obvious and simple joys.

In our culture, everyone is expected to make their mark by gaining an advantage, by invoking fear, persuading others of a problem – then marketing themselves as the answer. Because we buy into this, we have created a burdened world where problems beget problems, and they are inflated continuously by those who would sell the solution. As a result, instead of coming together to solve the problems, we become more polarized. We are living on top of a cultural atomic bomb. 

The protagonist in Heinlein’s story has one objective. He wants to visit the moon. He does everything in his power to push humanity to the moon and perhaps beyond. Yet, in his world, he may be the one man who never sets foot on the moon. It is a poignant story. 

 We have a choice. We can work together to ensure we have a future here and among the stars. Or we can set off the bomb.

 I know which one I choose. Do you?  

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

As a tribute to the brave pioneers of Apollo 13, Endeavor and Columbia, I offer one of my favorite songs, Phoenix by Julie Ecklar.

Another week has passed

Another great writing day. Crossed 15,000 words on movie novelization, got another 1,000 in on a short story, and started a new collaboration as an editor for a new writer.

Still reading Necropolis by Penn Fawn. I’m really enjoying it and look forward to writing and sharing my review.

My little friend Rocket Squirrel, we aren’t well enough acquainted to use informal names, came by and sat on the windowsill for a bit. He ran along the sill and basically around the window a couple times. Up one side, across the top and down the other side, literally around the window.

The house is coming together. It will be a while with both of us working full time and having other work, but progress can be seen. We have unpacked most of the books, and it looks like we have room to purchase more books.

Downstairs at least, we are nearing a point where we can begin hanging art and other decoration soon. My partner has been much better about working on their office space than I. It’s tough when my writing can be done from a wonderful overstuffed recliner by a window providing a view of the lake. Far superior to my office, which has a lovely view of the roof of my garage.

Thanks for reading,

Ernest

Edgar Allen Poe – Time Traveler Open Call for Submissions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

THE MASTER OF HORROR AND MYSTERY TAKES ON TIME ITSELF! SUBMISSIONS CALL FOR ‘EDGAR ALLAN POE-TIME TRAVELER’ NOW OPEN!

Edgar Allan Poe’s influence on our culture is incalculable. He invented the detective story, contributed to the development of both science fiction and the horror genre, and wrote about the only American poem everybody knows—certainly the only one popular enough to have an NFL team named after it. And now, from the creative brain of author and anthology editor Ernest Russell comes a concept that takes Poe to a whole new level. Submissions are now open for short stories to be featured in EDGAR ALLAN POE-TIME TRAVELER from Pro Se Productions!

This anthology concept comes from an old theory that notes rather curious and seemingly prophetic events in Poe’s writings.

Stories in the anthology should work from the premise Poe was a frequent time traveler. While examples exist to represent only a few adventures/information he incorporated into his stories, this anthology shall feature the experiences he did not report.

• Stories can only travel to Poe’s future. No grandfather paradox.

o Travel to a period can involve a historical event or occurrence but is not necessary.

o These adventures do not have to relate to any of Poe’s published work.

o Allies/Companions in the story will be considered. Still, so many have been done using H.G. Wells and Nikola Tesla stories using them will not be allowed.

• Stories are not to be set within Poe’s lifetime.

o One exception – because of the mysterious circumstance surrounding his death- stories involving the week prior to his death will be allowed, though limited in number.

• Any time travel method is available – Portal, Mental/astral projection, Magic, a mechanical device, etc.

• Stories can be in any genre Poe had an influence upon-Detective, Horror, Science Fiction.

 Poetry will be considered on a case by case basis and limited in the number of poems allowed.

All interested authors should request the anthology bible and then submit proposals for a single 10,000 word story to submissions@prose-press.com. If a poem is submitted, length is less of an issue, but acceptance is at discretion of the anthology editor. If the proposal is accepted, the story will be due within 90 days of acceptance. With that being said, the volume WILL NOT BE SUBMITTED FOR EDITING OR SCHEDULED FOR PUBLISHING until the volume is full based on number of accepted proposals, not completed stories.

Visit our website for more information on Pro Se Productions, or like Pro Se on Facebook for the latest announcements, news, and releases.

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

My Tree

In chaos there is meaning.

The meaning is there is no meaning.

Chaos

The weirding of the word

Is a lie to its content.

A portion of the great Ain Soph.

The mind grapples what it cannot conceive.

In the no-thingness of chaos

Is contained the birth of all.

Order,

Born of chaos,

Dies

Kicking and screaming

As chaos

Welcomes

It home.

All cycles,

All possible,

Extremes,

I climb the tree to live.

Looking out

Over the great mass of non-being

I see

In the distance

Another tree.

Looking out from the tree

Is me…

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

The Paladin Mandates

MIKE CHINN’S LIKELY IMMORTAL PULP HERO FLIES ONCE MORE-‘THE PALADIN MANDATES’ DEBUTS FROM PRO SE PRODUCTIONS

“You get caught up in the slipstream of the airfights and enthralled by the origins and secret identity of Leigh Oswin … I really want to read some more about Damian Paladin …Jenny B. (PRISM UK)

Damian Paladin: aviator, an expert on the occult, and apparently ageless. Leigh Oswin: her origins as mysterious as Paladin’s own. On a cold day in July during the early 1930s, their paths first cross outside a deserted airfield – and history is made. Uniting, they tackle vengeful Native American spirits, golems, a thunderbird, deadly banshees, primeval monstrosities from before time, undying pharaohs – and ultimately, even their own pasts.

Author Mike Chinn’s New Pulp hero flies into adventure once more in THE PALADIN MANDATES. From Pro Se Productions.

“A ready-made pulp icon, rarely seen without his leather flying coat and jodhpurs … A loving reconstruction of cheap pulp heroics … the perfect retro-romp.” Nick Setchfield (SFX MAGAZINE).

Featuring a thrilling cover and logo design by Antonino lo Iacono and print formatting by Dave Brzeski and Jilly Paddock, THE PALADIN MANDATES is available in print for $9.99.

This New Pulp story collection is also available as an eBook formatted by Brzeski and Paddock on the Kindle for only $2.99. The book is also available to Kindle Unlimited members for free.

For more information on this title, interviews with the author, or digital copies for review, email editorinchief@prose-press.com.

Please visit our website to learn more about Pro Se Productions. Like Pro Se on Facebook for all of the latest updates.

The Zephyr

Image by Susann Mielke from Pixabay

The joy of fully realizing and knowing the bond of our friendship had deepened over the last three years made my heart sing that fateful morning. Seen from a distance, the early rays of dawn glistened against the silhouette of The Zephyr exiting the barn. The Zephyr existed was a triumph of the bond shared between Philip and me. Through trials, tribulations, and victories of our endeavors as our shared vision took shape, so too did our relationship grow from friendship to brotherhood.

Our combined skills in engineering and electrical sciences produced this magnificent airship. While not as large as its successors would be, this ship would be the proof of concept that would change the world, ushering in a new commerce and transportation age. This maiden flight would test and confirm our theories shining as a beacon of hope for the future.

Preflight checks all seemed to be in order. The rudder and planes responded well to the controls from gleaming brass and polished wooden controls in the wheelhouse. The small Donkey engine aft generated a good head of steam as it spun the two dynamos up to speed. Dials spun as they engaged both in the engine compartment and their duplicates in the wheelhouse. They reflected the steady pressure of the Donkey engines chug-chug and the current flow from the dynamos. A third dial held a constant vigil as the batteries held their charge. In contrast, four smaller dials below read the amperage fed to each of the powerful electric motors ready to spin the propellers.

A steam engine required to power even a ship this size weighed more than the ship could lift. Its cargo capacity being negated by the requirement to carry enough fuel to feed the monster. Our concept used a one-cylinder donkey engine to charge batteries. It was lightweight and could be turned off for extended periods while the ship was powered by its batteries, requiring much less fuel. At least that was the idea.

The coin toss went to Phillip. It would be he who piloted our craft as I operated the engine and tended the batteries. Our six backers and their wives would occupy the small but well-appointed, passenger cabin and we would carry 250 pounds of mixed cargo. Our future plans would aim for up to 100 passengers or as much cargo as a large freighter. Other designs might allow for a mix of passengers and cargo. Yes, our optimism was high.

The ground crew loosed our bonds to the earthly realm. With hardly a bump, our beautiful craft with its crimson and gold gas bag adorned by the saw-toothed stabilizer fins bore us heavenward.

We circled the town, checking our systems and operations, allowing our backers too, “ooh and ahh,” as we dipped low enough to view landmarks. A tight circle of the town’s clocktower confirmed the trim crafts maneuverability. All conducted in silence.

The intent was we would fly northward to our capital, showing our invention to the government. Surely after such a prolonged period of devastation, a design such as ours might inspire them to back us as well. The possibilities were endless. Our dreams were of the pie in the sky variety.  Our heads and our invention were in the clouds.

Our Backers were ecstatic. Fortunately, the weather was good, and they gushed over how comfortable the travel. Even the best trains were loud and smelly. This was almost as comfortable as sitting in their own parlors. Their schemes at attracting passengers soon outstripped Phillips and mine most grandiose of plans. The only sound the occasional chug-chug of the Donkey engine to keep up the charge.

As the batteries charged, two things happened. First, they generated heat, and this in itself could cause them to boil out, exposing the plates seated in the sulfuric acid, potentially causing a spark. This results in the second problem of an explosion. As the batteries charged, they generate not only heat but hydrogen gas. This gas is the very thing suspending our craft between heaven and earth. A spark could ignite it.

Phillip solved these problems in two ways. Each battery resided inside a glass housing. Ingeniously a stopcock attached to each of these housings allowed the hydrogen to be siphoned off and stored for future use. This would solve one of the questions posed in obtaining a supply for our ships. A creative system of ductwork flowed over the batteries removing the oxygen produced as part of the process, which had the effect of cooling both batteries and the engines. The controls to open these ducts resided in the wheelhouse. The siphoning process could be controlled manually at the batteries or from the wheelhouse.

We made the trip from Texas to Washington, D.C., in less than 14 hours. A three-day journey by train is reduced to less than a day. The trip was a complete success for our vision of the future.

Well, mine at least, for I noticed the temperature of the batteries rising. This had occurred a couple of times during the flight, but Phillip had opened the ducts rapidly cooling things down each time. There was no cool down.

The speaking tube engendered no response. Worried, I went to the wheelhouse only to find the door locked. My knocks produced no more response than the speaking tube. Concern for Phillip led me to break open the door. In the interest of lightweight, the doors and nonstructural components were made of the lightest materials, the door collapsed under a determined assault.

“Phillip, what is wrong?” stunned as he seemed to be piloting the craft normally. I could just see the capitol through the front windows of the wheelhouse.

“There is nothing wrong, Emmet. I aim to repair history. We should never have lost that war, and now carpetbaggers steal our ways of life. Take our property and our lands. Do you really think those men back there are not plotting to take every cent from our toil? When this ship crashes into the capitol, our brethren will rise again, throw off the shackle of these northern oppressors.” Madly throwing controls, The Zephyr abruptly canted downward. If action were not taken swiftly, our dreams would turn from an optimistic vision to a thunderbolt of Zeusian vengeance.

“Phillip, after all, we have come to understand each other how can you dash our dreams? The war was lost, slavery was on the way out as machinery changed the economics. Ours is a time to look to the future, rebuild from the ashes, and create new things like the Zephyr. Please, Phillip, step away from the controls.”

“I knew you had gone soft Emmet when you mourned Lincoln. I knew it then. You are a good man, but you just do not understand. The idea came to me as we flew. I knew you would never understand what this chance represented.”

“I understand, Phillip. I understand too well. Some cannot accept times change. There will always be those who want to hold dearly to old ideas, will fight to prevent change. Even change for the better where all mankind might learn to live as one brotherhood. How can I convince you this is not the course to take? Only evil can come of it.”

With a glance at the controls, Phillip spun to face me.

“I can’t let you do this, Phillip.”

“I can’t let you stop me, Emmet.”

Without further word, we launched at each other.

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

All That Weird Jazz – One Readers Review

Kevin Findley’s Reviews > All That Weird Jazz

Another solid anthology from Pro Se Press. The authors and their stories hit every beat (pun intended) needed to merge a love of jazz and the supernatural.

Each tale is quite good, but my favorite is probably ‘Jazz Juice’ by McCallum J. Morgan. He takes the idea of the Crossroads Demon and puts a ‘combo’ twist on it. If you don’t get that, consider it another reason to read the story. The protagonist ends up exactly where you expect, but Morgan still put a smile on my face.

The first story, ‘Trane Blue’, does the opposite. The supernatural creature is not one I have ever associated with Jazz prior, but I will certainly think about it from now on. A neat, little twist!

Next up is ‘Sounds and Sweet Airs’. The author has given us a tragic heroine, but not one that just accepts what her future might be. Dorothy doesn’t get exactly what she hoped for, but her visions led her to a piano player that let her see something better.

‘Ghost in the Jazz’ is the shortest tale, but it tugged at my heart the hardest. Sixie isn’t the typical, tragic heroine, but she is pretty tough, just the kind of gal (i.e. Stanwyck and Harlow) that belongs in a tale like this.

‘Django in Paris’ could easily be made into a Twilight Zone episode. Davide Mana has his characters dialed in that well. Many years ago, I had the chance to patron a Paris jazz club and it felt much like Davide’s story. On top of that, a bunch of Nazis get it in the neck. What more could you ask for?!

‘Siren Song’ is a time travel story that could have easily folded itself into a corner, but the author did a nice, little side step to avoid the problem. The main character also found himself with a little redemption and resurrection before the final page.

‘Dark Magus’ takes place in Ethiopia. It is a cracking good monster story that locks down a demon on the downbeat. Pun definitely intended that time. Our trumpeter has a familiar name, so I just added (to me) the appropriate last name whenever I read it. You probably will too.

Our last tale is ‘Sunshine in Storyville’. Perhaps not the best in the series, but the author certainly knows how to keep your attention and race you through New Orleans until you are out of breath by the end, and that is always a good talent to have.

Not a dud in the bunch, but I’ve come to expect that from Tommy Hancock and Company. Great book boys and girls!

Find it! BUY IT! READ IT!

All That Weird Jazz is available on Amazon for Kindle and in Paperback.

Please visit our webpage to learn more about Pro Se Productions or keep up with the latest news on the Facebook page.

If you enjoyed Kevin Findley’s review check out his other reviews by licking the link at the top of the page.

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME EIGHT’ AVAILABLE NOW

SOVEREIGN CITY’S PREMIERE HERO RETURNS IN FIRST OF MULTIPLE RELEASES- BARRY REESE’S ‘THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME EIGHT’ AVAILABLE

“The only clue to his identity was a small medallion with the words ‘Lazarus Gray’ stamped upon it….” These words introduced many readers to one of the best heroes in Genre Fiction, created by award-winning author Barry Reese. Now, Pro Se Productions proudly presents THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME EIGHT in both digital and print formats.

Lazarus Gray and his team, Assistance Unlimited, face an uncertain future at the dawn of a new decade. New mysteries, new allies, and new foes rise from the ashes of old to challenge this band of heroes as never before…But their greatest crisis comes from within as one of their number stands at a crossroad and makes a choice that may turn friends into foes forever.

Created and written by award-winning author Barry Reese, THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME EIGHT features stunning cover art by George Sellas. Also included in this volume- SECRETS OF THE DEAD, a comic-strip origin sequence by Barry Reese and Sellas!

The winds of change are keenly felt in THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME EIGHT from Reese Unlimited and Pro Se Productions!

Featuring logo design and print formatting by Sean Ali is available in print, THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME EIGHT for $9.99.

The continued adventures of this New Pulp icon are is also available as an eBook formatted by Antonino lo Iacono and Marzia Marina for the Kindle for only $2.99. The book is also available to Kindle Unlimited members for free.

THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME EIGHT is the first of several new volumes of the adventures of Assistance Unlimited penned by Reese to be released in the coming months from Pro Se Productions.

For more information on this title, scheduling interviews with the author, or receiving digital copies for review, please email editorinchief@prose-press.com.

To learn more about Pro Se Productions, [;ease visit our webpage or like Pro Se page on Facebook.

Thank you for reading,

Ernest

Tavern by Deston J. Munden – Book Review

Tavern (Dargath Chronicles Book 1)

By Deston Munden

Reviewed by Ernest Russell

I always enjoy a good fantasy and an author who can twist tropes just enough to make the story interesting. The main character in Tavern, Xelnath of the Gnarled Root Clan, or Xel, is such a relatable character, full of flaws and self-doubt. A stout heart, loyal to his friends, and genuinely wants to protect his adopted home. All of this and he is not above using its secrets to make a living. He faces adversity despite his anxieties and depression while maintaining a positive feel to the story. You will quickly find yourself cheering and rooting for Xel rather than pitying him. In the first chapter, you learn what I mean by how well Deston Munden twists tropes in Tavern.

Xel isn’t the only well developed, every character is fleshed out, and you get to know them. The villain is one of my favorite types, they are the hero of their own story. You can see their point and still ask what made you think this was a good idea?

Tavern is the first of a planned series set in the world of Dargath. The world-building in this first book is impressive. Primarily set in the city of Lladad, a major seaport, you hear and see many of the different inhabitants of Dargath and their cultures. The city is alive in this story as you wander markets, slums, and royal abodes. Fear not, in Tavern, Deston Munden has resisted the urge to be overly detailed. There is enough description to set your imagination flowing while the characters and their dialogue drive the plot.

Role players who cut their gaming teeth on Chainmaile and Dungeons & Dragons while quoting Tolkien will find many characters they have known or played. If this series gains a following, campaign settings for D&D, Pathfinder, or any other fantasy RPG setting would be fun. I know I would play in them. Dargath is already a world where I would vacation and explore. That Tavern by Deston Munden reads like a game probably shouldn’t be a surprise considering his degree in Game Art and Design. Here is a description of the entire party assembled before a battle with the villain.

“Two forest orcs on the wrong side of the world, a tribeswoman assassin, a former dragon pirate turned mercenary, a lady from the Glade’s court, and a brilliant engineer in the shape of a dog. They were as rag-tag as they could get.”

These are my kind of people for an adventure.

The plot is well-paced, without being too fast or bogging itself down. This is a book in which the story is a joy to read. Tavern was edited by Dominion Editorial. I commend Deston Munden for seeking editors, so many independents do not, and sound editing makes a difference. The content editing and continuity are quite good in Tavern. The copy editing came up short. Dominion offers various packages for their service, and I don’t know if a copy edit was included.  Any book can miss a couple of things, often minor enough your mind fills in or corrects for it. These don’t tend to pull you out of the story. There are enough words missed, or incorrectly inserted, I was drawn out of the story multiple times. Fortunately, the story is strong enough and compelling enough to pull you back into it.

Tavern by Deston J. Munden is a book I recommend. The story is good. The characters are well rounded and developed, the subplots are well executed, and with all the elements combined, this is a book I can see becoming a favorite.

Thank you for reading,

Ernest